Josep Cabré Preparation and direction of gregorian repons
La Chapelle Harmonique Choir and orchestra
Valentin Tournet Dessus viol and conductor
We are the heart of the Spanish Golden Age, during the reign of the Habsburg dynasty in Spain, from Philip II to Charles II. The destiny of Catalonia had been linked to the Spanish crown since the union of Aragon and Castilla, with the marriage of catholic kings Isabella and Ferdinand. Catalonia would be influenced by the court – the search for splendour and ceremonial – the expanding prestige of Castilian, which became the cultural language until the 19th century and, not without struggles, Castilian politics and its imperial designs. In the field of music, Catalonia’s fate was similar to all Spain’s, with the strong influence of the spirit of Counter Reformation, following the Council of Trent, putting art at the service of religion. A time where large polychoral compositions and musical chapels flourished in Spain.
Often associated to its country of origin, Italy, and more specially to Venice, where the famous “cori spezzati” (alternating choirs), the polychoral style is a composition technique which uses the resources of a building’s architectural specificities to great effect.
The specificity of the Venetian form is its symmetry: two similar choirs responding and alternating. The Spanish is more baroque: no symmetry, but several choirs, two or more, dialoguing in contrast, one high with treble soloists (sometimes one or two singers), and the other bass, with more singers. The result is spectacular with the choirs’ conversation, from the listener’s point of view, occupying the entire acoustic space, with the sound coming from everywhere at the same time. The religious text is magnified and rendered more theatrical.
The musical chapel of the Montserrat abbey, famous for centuries, held a central position in the musical production of Catalonia of the 17th century and its most famous representative is probably Joan Cererols (1618-1680), schooled from childhood in the famous “escolania” for child singers; he then became a monk and composer at the abbey. His Missa pro Defunctis was composed during the great plague which devastated Barcelona in 1650, his Missa de Batalla celebrates the conquest of the kingdom of Naples in February in 1648. The aria Ay, qué dolor, is interestingly the theme of Bach’s introduction choir in the St Matthew’s Passion, 60 years later!
With the support of the region Ile-de-France
La Chapelle Harmonique is supported by Caisse des Dépôts and the Orange Foundation for its artistic activities.
This concert is made possible by a generous support from the ADOR, the Friends of the Royal Opera.
Joan Cererols (1618-1680)
¡Ay, qué dolor!
Missa de Difunts
Serafín, que con dulce harmonía
Missa de Batalla
Royal ChapelMore info
Royal Chapel - Access map